TSX Game Scout: Analyzing Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6) at New York Giants (2-7)
SERIES HISTORY: 21st regular-season meeting. Giants lead series, 13-7. The Giants are 4-2 in regular-season play against the Bucs since 2003 and have won their last two home meetings against them. The Giants are also 1-0 in postseason play, that being the NFC wild-card game played in January 2008.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Despite their struggles, the Buccaneers have the top offense in the NFL, a unit that's averaging 452.8 yards overall and 361.2 yards passing per game. A big part of that surge has been the play of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has thrown for 843 yards (including last week's 406-yard performance) and six touchdowns while completing 64 of 96 pass attempts since relieving Jameis Winston in Week 8. However, Fitzpatrick has committed five turnovers in the past two games, including four interceptions.
The problem for the Giants is that their pass rush has been mostly invisible all season. Last week, they only managed to record three pressures against Nick Mullens, none of them resulting in a sack. With Fitzpatrick dependent on timing patterns with his receivers, New York has to find a way to get after him Sunday to keep him off balance.
Offensively, the Giants caught a big break with Bucs linebacker Lavonte David sidelined with a sprained knee. David is probably their best cover linebacker, so with him missing it would behoove New York to take a page out of last week's game plan and continue to get running back Saquon Barkley in space as much as possible and get tight end Evan Engram up the seam where he might strike gold against a shaky defensive secondary that has contributed to opponents averaging 291.9 yards per game, fourth-most in the NFL. Odell Beckham Jr. could have a big day for the Giants. Safety Justin Evans is injured, so the pass defense is hurting.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
--OUT: DE Vinny Curry (ankle), LB Lavonte David (knee), S Justin Evans (toe), RB Ronald Jones II (hamstring), CB M.J. Stewart (foot)
--QUESTIONABLE: WR Chris Godwin (ankle), C Ryan Jensen (hamstring), DE Carl Nassib (elbow)
NEW YORK GIANTS
No players listed
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
--Giants RT Chad Wheeler vs. Bucs DE Jason Pierre-Paul. Last week, the Giants were able to help the offensive line by providing max protection and by running the ball more. This took some of the onus off the struggling tackles, most notably Wheeler, who leads the offensive linemen with 26 total pressures allowed. This week, Wheeler should see a lot of Pierre-Paul (as will LT Nate Holder), the former Giants defender who is itching to get back at his old team by showing them that he can still get the job done.
--Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Buccaneers CB Carlton Davis. Beckham had two touchdowns Monday night at San Francisco. Davis is a rookie but is a fierce competitor and his size could help him against Beckham.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Giants QB Eli Manning. Manning showed some of his old magic in engineering a come-from-behind victory over the 49ers on Monday Night Football with a performance that was just enough to throw some cold water on his ever-increasing hot seat. Can Manning and the Giants make it two in a row against an equally woeful opponent? If he can't, things could get ugly for the Giants very quickly as they look to record their first back-to-back wins since Weeks 14 and 15 of the 2016 season.
FAST FACTS: BUCCANEERS QB RYAN FITZPATRICK ranks 2nd in NFC averaging 314.1 pass yards per game. In 6 starts in 2018, has 2,005 pass yards (334.2 per game) with 15 TDs vs. 9 INTs for 103.4 rating. Passed for 406 yards last week & has 4 games with 400+ pass yards this season, most in NFL. ... RB JACQUIZZ RODGERS had 8 receptions for career-high 102 rec. yards in Week 10. ... WR MIKE EVANS has 13 catches for 217 yards (108.5 per game) & TD in 2 career meetings. ... WR CHRIS GODWIN had 7 catches for 103 yards last week, his 2nd-career 100-yard game. ... DT GERALD McCOY had sack in Week 10. Since entering league in 2010, ties for 3rd among NFL DTs with 51.5 sacks. ... Rookie DT VITA VEA had 1st-career sack last week. ... DE CARL NASSIB has 4 sacks in his past 4. Aims for 3rd in row with sack. ... DE JASON PIERRE-PAUL had 58.5 sacks & 13 FFs in 8 seasons with NYG (2010-17). ... GIANTS QB ELI MANNING threw 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 110.7 rating in Week 10. Aims for 5th in row vs. TB with 2+ TD passes. ... RB SAQUON BARKLEY (rookie) had 100 scrimmage yards (67 rush, 33 rec.) last week. Has 8 games with 100+ scrimmage yards in 2018, tied for most in NFL (ADAM THIELEN). Is only player in NFL with 500+ rush yards (586) & 500+ rec. yards (530). ... WR ODELL BECKHAM JR. had 2 rec. TDs in Week 10. Has 20 catches for 352 yards (117.3 per game) & 3 TDs in past 3. ... WR STERLING SHEPARD had rec. TD in Week 10. ... TE RHETT ELLISON had rec. TD in last meeting. ... S LANDON COLLINS led team with 9 tackles last week. Leads team with 71 tackles, tied-3rd most among safeties. ... LB B.J. GOODSON had 6 tackles, 2 PD & 2 INTs in Week 10, his 1st-career INTs. Aims for 3rd in row with 6+ tackles & TFL.
PREDICTION: Tampa Bay's defense helps a lot of offenses get well, and the Giants certainly need an assist in that department. The Buccaneers will come out throwing and New York will have to match them. They won't.
OUR PICK: Buccaneers, 30-27